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By Aine Kerr
July 29, 2009 / independent.ie
THE Government's 99-point action plan was last night hailed as a major breakthrough in the long campaign for improved protection and care of children.
Broadly welcomed by all the children's representative bodies, the Government was urged by the sector to start acting on the comprehensive plan immediately and follow it up with a referendum on children's rights.
Fergus Finlay, of Barnardos, welcomed the plans to put child protection guidelines on a statutory footing -- a move the sector has been seeking for many years.
"This will mean child protection safeguards will have to be implemented consistently across all statutory and state-funded voluntary bodies in Ireland and will strengthen the protection of children across the country," he said.
The HSE said it was recruiting social workers and appointing temporary staff to permanent positions and would immediately begin work on how best to implement the action plan.
The Children's Rights Alliance argued that the successful passage of a children's rights constitutional amendment would be a "living memorial" to the victims of abuse.
The alliance also called for some of the time lines in the plan to be brought forward to reflect the urgency of some of the child protection and child care issues.
The Rape Crisis Network said the Government had recognised that words alone were not enough and had made "solid commitments", which will directly increase child protection and child safety.